New York Cares (newyorkcares.org) is a local nonprofit organization with many great programs that serve New Yorkers. One of these programs is an annual coat drive. This year, the distribution of jackets began three days earlier than it normally would have, due to the tremendous need resulting from Hurricane Sandy.
Meeting at the office in Manhattan, around twenty other volunteers and I joined staffers Josh and Joey and Jimmy the bus driver on an orange school bus and made our way across the Manhattan Bridge and to Far Rockaway.
We were greeted at the Library by Diane, whose enthusiasm and energy was infectious and so appreciated.
Through the morning and on in to the afternoon, we sorted through literally piles of garbage bags filled with donated coats. Some volunteers kept the tables organized, some restocked the piles that were divided in to young boys, young girls, women and men, and others, like me, assisted residents in finding jackets for themselves and for their families. Our positions were called personal shoppers and it was our job to greet people and help them find jackets.
The constant, steady stream of Far Rockaway residents kept us all busy and engaged with them, with one another, and with the library staff. Most people who came in were incredibly gracious, grateful for any jacket that would fit them and keep them warm. Others were more challenging, with their specific requests for color and style, treating the Coat Drive as if it were a ready-to-order-desk at Macy's or JC Penny's store.
Thanks to the great leadership and endless encouragement of the New York Cares staff, the positive attitudes of the volunteers remained. Endless hot coffee and muffins and the smiling and the warm, satisfied smiles of the residents leaving with bags busting to the seams with coats also helped us shake off those few seemingly ungrateful individuals. And we kept on smiling and sorting, resupplying and shopping, and stepping around the various media who were on hand with pens, cameras and video cameras.
After five hours of "coat collaboration", we reboarded the little orange school bus, having distributed over 300 jackets. I was in awe of the number and quality of coats that so many individuals, businesses and corporations donated to this fantastic cause.
The volunteers and staff are out again in full force again today, and when the drive is all said and done, New York Cares hopes to have met their goal of distributing 200,000 coats.
Those of you who donated to my "Shopping Spree for Sandy Victims" can know that your donations went to this organization. I donated four large garbage bags filled with the coats, hats, gloves, scarves and more to New York Cares' Coat Drive. Thanks to your incredible generosity of nearly $500, many, many New Yorkers will be warm this winter, inside and out!
Thanks to your donations, I'll be bringing bags of winter coats with me tomorrow morning when I join the organization New York Cares, with their goal of distributing over 1,000 jackets to residents of Far Rockaway.
Know that your generosity is going to help many, many people stay warm in the coming days and through winter. Your kindness matters. You matter.